Teams make mistakes all the time. The smart ones admit them. The dumb ones double down.
The 49ers avoided a potential mistake by choosing not to cut the cord on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and by working out a very favorable deal to keep him on the team for 2022. They’d made it clear at the outset of training camp that Garoppolo wouldn’t be on the team. They decided it was in the best interests of the team to find a way to keep him. They reversed course, welcoming whatever criticism they’d receive.
In so doing, they’re admitting that they may have made a mistake with Trey Lance. They haven’t acknowledged it yet, but the decision to keep Garoppolo around as a hedge against Lance getting injured or being not good opens the door to the possibility that they’ll eventually decide to give him a second season on the bench and kick the can on the commencement of his career to 2023.
They don’t know what Lance will do in games that count, week in and week out. Coach Kyle Shanahan clearly has concerns. He gave Lance an unplanned extra drive in the preseason finale, and Shanahan openly said he wished he could get Lance more work before Week One.
Now, with the former starter re-entering a locker room in which Jimmy the Ghost is beloved, it will be very awkward for Lance. Surely, he senses the direction in which the wind may be blowing.
What happens at practice? Does Lance freak out a little bit, knowing that Garoppolo is back? How will Garoppolo look once he’s back on the field?
Presumably, Garoppolo will be in uniform as of Week One. Will that be a distraction for Lance? Will he step up, or will he step off?
There’s still a chance — extremely remote as it may be — that Shanahan decides before Week One to just give Lance another Steve Young-style “watch and learn” season. Yes, it sounds crazy to think that.
Almost as crazy it would have sounded a day ago to think that the 49ers would actually keep Garoppolo, and that he’d actually want to stay.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s return dramatically changes the dynamics for Trey Lance originally appeared on Pro Football Talk